China has said it would stage military exercises in the East China Sea near Taiwan this week.
This would be the third set of drills in a month and comes after the recent US approvals of arms sales worth billions to Taiwan, including F-16 jets.
Ships would be prohibited from entering the waters off the coast of China’s Zhejiang Province for 48 hours starting from 6pm yesterday because of the military exercises, the Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration said in a brief notice on Monday.
Photo: Chen Cheng-liang, Taipei Times
The administration did not offer details on the scale of the exercises or which military units were involved.
State-backed newspaper Global Times called it a “live-fire drill.”
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army late last month held two large military drills close to the Taiwan Strait.
“The idea is to better prepare for conflict, but also deter ... Taiwan [from] going down the path of independence or, failing that, a US intervention if conflict breaks out between China and Taiwan,” said Adam Ni (倪凌超), China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney.
The series of drills follows a defense white paper published last month, in which the Chinese military warned about a growing challenge from pro-independence forces in Taiwan.
Ties between Beijing and Taipei have plummeted since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, because her party refuses to recognize the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China.”
In response, Beijing has cut official communications, ramped up military exercises, poached diplomatic allies and increased economic pressure on the nation.
China sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary.
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